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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

DPA update

Subject: CA eUpdate 06/07/06
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CA eUpdate
June 7, 2006 manage my subscription | text version

In this Issue

Coming Together to Fight Hep C in California

HIV Prevention Bill Moves through California Legislature

Prop 36 Grads Step Up Advocacy for Treatment Funding

Hepatitis C 90x90Coming Together to Fight Hep C in California

A policy meeting in Sacramento last month brought together about 100 advocates, including representatives of the Drug Policy Alliance, to discuss California's hepatitis C epidemic and form a statewide policy coalition.

HCV (the hepatitis C virus) is a serious public health problem in California, with about 600,000 people infected. The state made an important start on the issue last year by passing a bill to increase the availability of testing and treatment for people in the prison system, where one third of inmates are infected, but more needs to be done.

The Sacramento conference brought together people who work on HCV, have clients with HCV, or live with the virus themselves--all groups that stand to be affected by HCV policy. They discussed what is happening with HCV around the state and at the national level, and explored policies that would help to control the spread and impact of HCV in California.

One clear need that emerged from the meeting was the formation of a policy coalition to foster collaboration among groups and create unified policy strategies. With the creation of the Strategic Statewide Policy Coalition, the stakeholders will be able to further the discussion.

Alberto Mendoza, DPA's Southern California regional director, said, "Treatment providers, public health advocates and policy makers all need to work together to reduce the damage hep C is causing. We need better education, especially among the injection drug user community, as well as better access to treatment. The coalition will help us figure out how to meet these needs and assess what is realistic, and what works."

While the Sacramento conference dealt with statewide issues, a follow-up meeting in Los Angeles, sponsored by DPA and the California Hepatitis C Alliance, will focus on the local needs of Southern California. The meeting, taking place June 29, will include an update on the May Sacramento discussion, a brainstorm session about local versus statewide needs, and a discussion about the role of Southern California in the coalition. If you are involved in HCV work and would like to be a part of the June 29 meeting, please email Yazmin Trujillo.

There will also be a larger hepatitis C education meeting in Southern California this fall to bring the coalition's work to the general public.

Read More

Sacramento capitol 90x90HIV Prevention Bill Moves through California Legislature

The first AIDS case was diagnosed in the United States in 1981. Twenty-five years later, injection drug users remain at risk of contracting the disease through needle sharing. A bill now before the California legislature, AB 2076 (Laird), would help to reduce that risk by allowing counties to support syringe exchange programs with state HIV prevention funds. The measure passed the Assembly by a vote of 45-34, and is now headed to the state Senate.

The bill would not necessitate any new funding for syringe exchange, but would simply provide counties more flexibility in deciding how to allocate the funds they already receive from the state. This flexibility is important given that 34% of all reported HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. since the epidemic began are among injection drug users and their sexual partners, and up to 75% of new AIDS cases among women and children are directly or indirectly a consequence of injection drug use.

Currently, syringe exchange programs operating in California serve larger populations than they are able to accommodate, and are forced to cobble together funds and materials from unusual sources. Since the primary goal of state HIV/AIDS prevention dollars is to prevent the onset of new HIV cases, counties should be able to utilize state monies in a manner that has proven to be one of the most effective means of preventing new cases of HIV.

Syringe exchange is a proven and cost-effective way to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other diseases without increasing drug use. Several states have adopted measures similar to AB 2076, including two with Republican governors: New York and Massachusetts. However, when a bill similar to AB 2076 went to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk in 2005, he vetoed it.

This year's bill addresses concerns raised in the governor's veto message by providing for annual evaluation of the program by local governments, with opportunities for public comment. Drug Policy Alliance Network, DPA's lobbying arm, is advocating for AB 2076 in the legislature by writing letters of support and providing testimony at hearings. There will also be a key opportunity for drug policy reformers across the state to show their support when the bill reaches the governor's desk.

Together, we can make sure California takes this sensible measure to help curb the 25-year-old HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Read More

Prop 36 Rally '06

Prop 36 Grads Step Up Advocacy for Treatment Funding

Graduates of Proposition 36, California's treatment-instead-of-incarceration law, met with legislators across the state during May to ask for their continued support of the program. Funding for Prop 36 drug treatment will expire on June 30, 2006, unless it is reallocated in the state budget due out in just weeks.

In San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Sacramento, Prop 36 grads shared their success stories with staff and legislators in over five dozen legislators' offices! Participants in these local advocacy days are all in recovery rather than jail thanks to Prop 36. They represent some of the more than 140,000 Californians who have entered treatment through the program in just four years--and some of the 60,000 that will have graduated by July 1, 2006. Also by that date, the program will have saved taxpayers between $800 million and $1.3 billion.

On May 24, the Coalition for Effective Public Safety, of which DPA is a member, brought over 100 people from across the state to participate in a grassroots advocacy day on prison reform. Prop 36 was a central focus of the day's efforts, with DPA materials being distributed to legislators and Prop 36 grads attending many of the event's over 100 meetings and drop-ins.

CEPS is a statewide, broad-based coalition of faith communities, youth, people who have been in prison, crime survivors, policy advocates, and former corrections officials dedicated to reducing prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and building safer communities. The coalition represents 500,000 Californians.

Prop 36 graduates at both the CEPS advocacy day and the Prop 36 local advocacy days warned legislators that unless Prop 36 drug treatment is sufficiently funded, people who are suffering from addiction might not receive adequate care in the program. This would both jeopardize their chances at successful recovery and undermine the cost savings to taxpayers.

Read More

Quote of the Week

"The only source that will currently fund the cost of clean needles and syringes for these programs is private, and this type of funding has been decreasing. It is imperative that we provide public resources to programs that save lives and tax dollars."

--Dana Van Gorder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, speaking on the need for counties to be able to use state HIV prevention money for syringe exchange programs.

FACT: According to the California Department of Health Services, syringe sharing is linked to 20% of reported AIDS cases statewide. Syringe exchange programs are a proven, cost-effective way to reduce syringe sharing without increasing drug use.


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San Francisco 40x50San Francisco Summer Internship with DPA

DPA's Teens and Drugs project, based in San Francisco, is looking for a summer intern interested in contributing to our team effort to keep young people safe. Projects may include: planning events, updating publications, creating referral lists, researching potential partner organizations, and organizing our database. For more information, including how to apply, please see the full posting.

» Read More

Classified 40 x 60DPA Seeks Director for California Capital Office

The director, based in Sacramento, bears primary responsibility for DPA's California legislative advocacy, supervises a small professional office, and serves on the DPA management team. The ideal candidate will have 7-10 years of experience in public policy, legislative and/or governmental affairs, political campaigns or ballot initiatives; criminal justice and/or public health experience preferred. For more information on responsibilities and qualifications, please see the full posting.

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Los Angeles 40x50Southern California Hep C Meeting

A meeting sponsored by DPA and the California Hepatitis C Alliance will take place in Los Angeles June 29 to address Southern California policy needs around hepatitis C. It will include a brainstorm session about local versus statewide needs, and a discussion about the role of Southern California in the statewide hepatitis C policy coalition. If you are involved in HCV work and would like to be a part of the June 29 meeting, please email Yazmin Trujillo.

» Read More


XVI International AIDS Conference

AIDS 2006 will be one of the most important scientific gatherings in the fight against AIDS, as well as a unique opportunity for science, government, community and leadership from around the world to advance our collective response to the epidemic.
Aug 13-18, 2006
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Toronto, Ontario

more info

6th National Harm Reduction Conference

For the 6th National Harm Reduction Conference - "Drug User Health: The Politics and the Personal" - we have returned to Oakland, one of our home bases and the site of our first national conference, held in 1996.
Nov 9-12, 2006
Marriott Oakland City Center Hotel
Oakland, CA

more info

» More Events

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